With our copy of the deeply beautiful Kinfolk Table in hand, we decided to throw a little dinner party of our own—with a dark autumnal twist. With warm, hearty dishes and easily crafted decorations (including a beautiful skull garland and a shibori-style tablecloth), it was the perfect occasion for some chilly-weather warmth.
The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox (Clarkson Potter). [TOP IMAGE ABOVE] I was so looking forward to this book, a collection of recipes which are a bit less common than you’d normally find in American baking books– recipes like like Lamington cupcakes, pine nut tart with rosemary cream, nut and cherry nougat. As a whole, the collection of recipes is elegant- definitely a notch above average. You’d make a great statement if you served one of these recipes to your friends. And although I had a bit of difficulty with the Ultimate Chocolate Brownies (The cooking time didn’t work out for me?), my shortcoming has been like a challenge to me, which has made me want to come back and try more recipes in the book, maybe toward Christmas when I usually try to bake up five to ten different baked goods and give little boxes of mixed goodies to friends as gifts (You always want unique things people haven’t tried before in those gift boxes). For people who like to experiment with different flavors and adapt recipes for different types of desserts, you’ll appreciate the notes after each recipe which offer tips on how to do just that! In sharp contrast with Baking Unplugged, there are plenty of pictures in this book of the final recipes up close, so you can compare and see how your efforts measure up! While the recipes are generally quite easy to execute, this is definitely the type of book for the person who believes that a tiny bit more effort can produce great desserts.
L.A.’s Original Farmer’s Market Cookbook by JoAnn Cianciulli (Chronicle Books) is a great little walk through an American Farmer’s Market. In other words, the best of all worlds. I like this book because I like cookbooks which also tell a story and put the food into the context of where it is made or of who makes it. This book not only tells the history of the market, it tells the history of the stalls whose recipes are featured. The history of the market is presented with historical photographs in the introduction to the book, before getting to the food. It is divided into four sections: Breakfast, Sandwiches and Light Bites, Main Meals, and Sweet Things. The book starts out with a doughnut recipe and ends with…recipes for dog biscuits!! I tested the book in the middle– with crepes from the French Crepe Company, and they were wonderful. But if you want something less ‘predictable’ there is Korean, Mexican, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian (American), and American. The photography is not sophisticated, however, it is enough to induce hunger and make you wish you could take a walk at the market. For me, preparing it at home is the next best option, and I look forward to trying more recipes in the book.
Few things make me happier than good things happening to good people. And if anyone ever deserved to be a raging success, it’s Cheryl and Griff Day from Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia. Let’s put it this way: When I decided to get married in Savannah, the very first call I made was to Cheryl. Before anything else was booked or signed, I’d already begged her to make my cake (thankfully she obliged, and it was amazing). I’ve been enjoying Cheryl and Griff’s delicious food and baked goods since my first trip to Savannah and have been honored to share their friendship over the years, as well. They are quite simply great people making great food that comes straight from the heart. So I’m overjoyed to share and celebrate the debut of their very first cookbook, The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook (Artisan Books), on p today.
Spending my time with someone who works in cookbook writing and testing has made me look at books in a whole new way. My own experience with books made me appreciate the hard work that goes into the organization, but to see first-hand how much testing and skill goes into each recipe makes me have a whole new level of respect for cookbook authors. We’ve been so fortunate to see some gorgeous books come across our desk at work lately, so I thought I’d share some of my personal favorites that I plan to be cooking from over the holiday break. I tend to lean heavily on sweets, so many of these are dessert books (not sure if I should apologize or celebrate that fact) which I hope will still work for everyone. If not, we’ve got an in-depth post coming up tomorrow about a great new recipe book that celebrates the savory as much as the sweet. Happy cooking!
The Hungry Girls’ Cookbooks are more like art-based magazines than straightforward cookbooks, and they are handmade, designed and written by three friends, Rachel Pitts (recipes), Katherine Bird (design and illustrations) and Leah Holscher (photography). It’s awesome when friends come together to produce something creative, and these girls have really done it well. Each copy is hand-bound with cloth and made on 100% recycled paper in Australia. Volume 3 just launched last week, and I think they’d make a spectacular gift for the foodie in your life. They celebrate fresh, local food while looking as beautiful as the food is tempting to eat. Click here to check out more online.
As much as I don’t like to admit it, food is the weak link in my self-care practice. I don’t have a horrible diet, but having grown up with a mother who packed me cucumber and sprout sandwiches for lunch, I just have an “I eat healthy” point-of-view that isn’t exactly true. I haven’t fully connected what food does for my body, but I’m making my way there. I’m lucky enough to have met Heather Crosby, a creative entrepreneur who has embraced the responsibility of being accountable for her own health after years of being told she’d be on medication for the rest of her life.
I started small, blending veggies into smoothies. Then I started to create healthy versions of my favorite comfort foods and wrote everything down. Eventually, I had a binder full of recipes that I thought I should share with others, so I started YumUniverse.com. Then I started sharing resources that could be downloaded by anyone, anywhere. I wrote a book, I’m finishing a second cookbook, YumUniverse: Pantry to Plate, and I’m launching my first 4-week gluten-free baking course in early 2017.
Skull Garland DIY: We crafted these charming hanging garlands using Paper Source’s Sugar Skull Gift Wrap, Rhombus Black Paper, and Raised Grey Floral Paper . Skulls were cut out according to the pattern and circles were cut from the other papers. The cutouts were then attached, back-to-back, to black and white twine with a glue stick.
Fortunately, I had a co-author, so I didn’t have to worry about recipe headnotes (which I understand can be very challenging to write well) or features (research, research, and more research), both of which give voice to a cookbook and help inform and connect the reader to the recipes. I also didn’t have to handle the manuscript edits! I could focus on what I enjoy most — food and photos!